September 25, 2016 at 7:56AM


Getting the best results possible from non-actors

Hello fellow filmenthusiasts,

I'm working on a short right now, and for the first time it is not only me and my animated puppets, but an actor who I have to direct.
The problem is, that he's not really an actor. Not at all, actually.
It is a 14 year old local boy who I thought would fit in with my visual preferences for my film. Needless to say I had no budget at all so I had no choice.
The thing is, that we had our first day on set half a week ago and some things went flawless, but I just can't get to him to explain which emotions he should display when portraying a scared person. And I hope that it's my fault, because then it is something I can correct. So, before giving up on him being a bad actor, I'd love to hear some ideas of how to talk to somebody who has not been taught how to perform.
Thanks in advance - I'd love to make a change to it.


If it was me, I would find some examples of the type of emotion I would want my actor to be able to produce and let my actor study these on their own time. Often people may not know their own emotional range, but they usually understand what you mean when they can see it for themselves.

September 25, 2016 at 7:22PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

Thanks for the tip, I'll try to find such material.

Benjamin Skorov

September 28, 2016 at 7:23PM

I actually wrote an enormous article on the subject of casting and directing non-actors earlier this year. It features a couple of case studies of directors who have gone out and successfully utilized non-actors in their films, and they both share some useful tips on their directing processes.

Hope you find it helpful :)

September 27, 2016 at 4:21PM

Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom

Thank you, Robert, I appreciate it! I'll take a look at the article later today; I'm sure it will help! :)

Benjamin Skorov

September 28, 2016 at 7:24PM

Thanks for your your post. It was indeed very helpful.:)

Nazia Nusrat Adnin

September 29, 2016 at 7:52AM

Had the time to read the article and kept on reading other ones on the side as well - it's great stuff, thanks a lot, Robert!

Benjamin Skorov

September 30, 2016 at 4:02PM

Thanks for the kind words, Benjamin and Nazia. It's greatly appreciated! :)

Rob Hardy

October 2, 2016 at 3:52PM

Ask them, for some practice, if they could perform some emotions alone in front of a mirror so they know what it looks like if they do it ordinary in their daily life and how it looks like if they perform and how it feels.
Also be as precise as possible and do not treat them as if they would be actors. It's somehow new to them I'd guess so be gentle.

September 28, 2016 at 5:16AM

Eric Halbherr
Director, DP, Editor, Creative Storyteller

Sounds great. After all, it can do no harm, right? I'll try it, thanks!

Benjamin Skorov

September 28, 2016 at 7:25PM

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